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3 Days In Mexico City Itinerary

8 min read
3 Days In Mexico City Itinerary

Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the entire world, so finding a way to cram all of its glorious culture, rich history, and delicious food into three days isn’t the easiest task.

Still, 3 days is just about enough time to see some of the city’s highlights.

With a mixture of ancient Aztec ruins and modern skyscrapers, Mexico City is the perfect city to explore a wide variety of things. The city is dense with museums, markets, and monuments, meaning by the end of these three days, you might need a rest — because I plan on packing this itinerary to the brim!

After narrowing down all of my favorite spots, I have come up with this epic three-day itinerary to Mexico City.

I’ll cover the details further below, but here it is in a nutshell:

Day Activities
1 Discover the historic center. Templo Mayor, Metropolitan Cathedral, and Palacio de Bellas Artes are the top sights not to miss. Explore by yourself or join a guided walking tour.
2 See the epic pyramids of Teotihuacan, either by organized tour with hotel pick-up or by taking a metro and public bus. Use the rest of the day to wander around Roma and Condesa.
3 Either visit the National Museum of Anthropology and Chapultepec Park OR go to the Frida Kahlo museum and take a boat ride in the canals of Xochimilco. The latter can be done with a full-day tour.

Plan your 3-day trip to Mexico City

Is 3 Days Enough for Mexico City?

I know by now I probably have you thinking, “Is three days even enough time to see Mexico City?” and that’s fair enough. You could spend your whole life in CDMX and still not see it all, but for just the highlights, three days is a good amount of time.

The days will be pretty packed if you want to see the museums and ruins and check out the nightlife, but in this itinerary, I’ve tried to Tetris it all together so you aren’t running around like a mad person.

The sightseeing schedule below won’t leave that much time for, say, a random wander through the romantic Roma district or discovering a cute art shop in Juarez. To smell the roses a little more, you may want to cut one day of sightseeing from this template, or stay a bit longer.

If you want to take it slow and add some day trips too, you can check out my 7-day guide to Mexico City.

Zocalo in Mexico City

Tips for a smooth trip to CDMX

With limited time in Mexico City, you won’t want the travel logistics to ever get in the way. Here are some tips to keep your trip smooth and efficient.

Where to stay

There are a ton of different neighborhoods around Mexico City, and while some of them are really cool, you’ll want to stay in a central location to have easy access to the city’s most popular sites.

I recommend staying in either the Roma or Centro Historico neighborhoods. They’re not original choices by any means, but they’re tried-and-true and convenient — and so ideal for a first-time visit.

Roma is a much trendier neighborhood and will give you that “should I move here” feeling. Centro Historico is right in the middle of everything and among many of the city’s main attractions, so it can make for a convenient base.

The leafy Roma neighborhood

How to get around

To be honest, Mexico City is notorious for its traffic and crowded public transportation. However, there are still ways to get around efficiently without losing your cool.

Personally, Uber is my favorite way around the city because it’s cheap and safe. There is also a decent metro system in Mexico City, but you’ll want to avoid it at peak rush hour times. Around 7 am or 5 pm, you’ll want to avoid it at all costs—it’s a sardine can.

For day trips out of the city, it’s most efficient to book with a tour company. They’ll pick you up from your hotel and take you exactly where you need to be, so you’ll have no wasted time.

Tips and tricks

Saving time: To save precious time in Mexico City you’ll want to map out your days by location. The city is huge, so you don’t want to be bouncing back and forth. Luckily, most of the main tourist attractions are clustered in two or three areas, making it easier to plan your days.

Opening hours: Most museums are closed on Mondays, and just about all of them don’t open until 10 am on other days, and they close at 6 pm. I recommend picking out your must-see museums and maneuvering the three days in Mexico City around that.

Connectivity: Get a local SIM card (or get an eSIM for Mexico before you go). I know it’s only three days, but searching around for WiFi while trying to call an Uber or to find a good restaurant can be a pain and waste precious time.

3 Day Itinerary for Mexico City

Day 1: Sightseeing in the historic city

On your first day in Mexico City, get familiar with city life and explore all the must-see tourist destinations in Centro Historico at the heart of CDMX. You’ll immediately notice the Spanish influence in colonial architecture here, while being surrounded by the warmth of Mexican culture.

Start your day off at the Zocalo, the main square of CDMX. It’s surrounded by beautiful historic buildings and landmarks. And just about any time of year, locals will take to the streets of the main square to celebrate different festivals and holidays in Mexico.

The facade of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City
The Metropolitan Cathedral

Then, head to the Metropolitan Cathedral, with its gold accents and grand architecture, it’s a must-visit landmark in the city. Take some time to explore the interior and admire the stunning artwork and sculptures.

Right around the corner is the Templo Mayor. An Aztec ruin site that will give you a fascinating glimpse into the history and culture of Mexico before Spanish colonization. And don’t miss the chance to visit the National Palace that overlooks the Zocalo. You’ll find some of the famous paintings by Diego Rivera here and can learn a little more about Mexican history.

An aerial view of the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City
Palacio de Bellas Artes

Grab some street food on a 15-minute walk to relax in Alameda Central Park and admire the beautiful gardens and fountains. Along the way, you can visit the Palacio de Bellas Artes, an iconic cultural center with a stunning marble exterior and beautiful murals inside.

You can also join this Mexico City tour for a guided adventure through these locations and more.

Day 2: Teotihuacan

While you could opt to stay inside the city, I recommend taking hour-long trip to see Teotihuacan.

The ancient city was built by an unknown civilization, though it mixes characteristics of the Maya, Mixtec and Zapotec. It was founded around 200 CE and abandoned in 750 CE, and is known as “The City of the Gods”. Its epic pyramids are some of the most impressive ruins in all of Mexico.

The Teotihuacan pyramids
The epic pyramids of Teotihuacan

The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest on the site at 210 ft tall. Before the covid-19 pandemic, it was open for climbing, and you could get some pretty epic views. But since then, it’s remained closed for climbing.

Alternatively, for what is truly the best view you can take a stunning balloon flight over Teotihuacan. Depending on your budget this can be a bit pricey, but it’s a unique experience that’s well worth it. You’ll be picked up at your hotel in the city early in the morning and be able to see the sunrise over Teotihuacan from a hot air balloon. I booked it on GetYourGuide, but you can also book it via Viator.

Slow down in Roma

Visiting Teotihuacan should take about half a day. You can use your remaining time to explore the leafy and charming residential neighborhoods of Roma and Condesa. These two hip areas are filled with trendy cafes, beautiful parks, international restaurants, and small galleries and shops.

Day 3: cultural options & outdoor activities

Choosing what to do on your last day in Mexico City isn’t easy as there are just so many great things to do. So, I’m gonna give you a few of the best ways to spend your final day, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

Option 1: Chapultepec Park & Museums

If you want to dive deeper into Mexican culture, I highly recommend visiting the National Museum of Anthropology.

This museum houses the largest collection of pre-Columbian artifacts from around the country, covering the Maya, Aztec, Olmec, and other civilizations. It’s the most important museum to learn more about the country’s ancient history and indigenous cultures.

You can book this guided tour for a more immersive experience. The same tour is also available on Viator.

Artifacts on display at the Anthropoligical Museum

After you’ve immersed yourself in history and culture, head over to Chapultepec Park for some fresh air, which is adjacent to the Anthropology Museum.

The park is the oldest and biggest urban park in Latin America, with over 1,700 acres. The park has lakes, museums, and even a hilltop castle.

Chapultepec Park
Option 2: Xochimilco & Frida Kahlo

For those feeling more festive, head to Xochimilco in the afternoon. This is one of the most fun things to do in Mexico City.

You’ll climb aboard a trajinera boat as it floats down the canals while boats float by playing mariachi music, selling food, and, of course, there will be loads of drinks.

A boat painted in bright colors in Xochimilco, Mexico City

On your way back to Mexico City, stop in the Coyoacán neighborhood to visit La Casa Azul (The Blue House), famously known as the former home of Frida Kahlo. This vibrant and colorful house has been turned into a museum showcasing her life and art.

You can also join a tour if you also want to see Coyoacán, the Frida Kahlo Museum, and more in addition to Xochimilco. The high-rated tour by Amigo Tours can be booked easily on GetYourGuide or Viator.

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Posted DEC 07, 2023

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